A Day in the Life of ....

A Senior Social Work Practitioner (Adults)

Introduction

My name is Lisa, I qualified 24 years ago and work full time for Derby City Council. I am a Senior Social Work Practitioner and I also act as a Best Interests Assessor. I am a Practice Educator and am involved in assessing students and newly qualified social workers who join the team and undertake their ASYE. I work within an adult team supporting customers with learning disabilities, mental ill health, brain injuries or physical disabilities, living in specialist nursing/ residential care or supported living settings. I have always worked within learning disability services and over the years these have changed significantly, many more customers now have their own tenancies and individualised support which is a positive development.

My daily routine

I’m writing this during the COVID-19 period where our practices have had to adapt and be creative in the way that we support people.  Whilst we are all working from home, I usually log on around 8.30am checking emails and the electronic recording system for any alerts and safeguarding issues. I check my ‘to do book’ for the urgent tasks that I need to prioritise each day. Over my years of practice I have trialled many approaches to keeping track of tasks, I now have a to- do book where I list both urgent and not so urgent tasks, using a book rather than a new list each time also supports me to track how many tasks I am completing and helps my motivation to see that I may have another 20 tasks outstanding but I have completed 40 etc. already! In all my years I have never yet got to the point where a ‘to do’ list is empty!

What sort of issues do I have to deal with?

I supervise social workers and community care workers within the team and am supervised myself by a team manager. Our team has its own duty system although most of our cases are allocated due to their complexity.

With our customer group the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) underpins much of our work, I support workers undertaking capacity assessments around tenancies, finances and accommodation decisions. Often, I find myself supporting workers at MDT’s in hospitals advocating for customer’s rights under the MCA 2005, even now many professionals hold the perception that they can decide what is in someone’s best interests on their own.

As many of our customers live in supporting living settings, preparing applications for the Court of protection for community DOL’s is an area where I support workers, with my knowledge as a Best Interests Assessor.

Workers within the team review complex support packages and apply for continuing health care funding. I support workers with DST’s (decision support tools) as part of the health funding processes which is where health and social care follow a specific framework to calculate funding splits. I get involved when there are issues with care providers whether this be requests for increased fees, additional support hours or serving notice on placements.  I need a good understanding of guidance/ legal frameworks and codes of practice to perform my role and need to ensure that I am up to date with case law and good practice issues.

I support workers undertaking safeguarding processes and liaise with many other professionals in my day to day practice. The day goes quickly dealing with unexpected crises and the need to respond urgently, you soon learn to have ‘emergency snacks’ for when you miss lunch or are travelling all over the country.

The use of video calls during COVID-19 has been strange to get used to, especially with our customer group who tend to experience communication difficulties. In some ways though some customers have found video meetings less ‘intimidating’ as there is a screen rather than a group of people in a room. I think that some of these ‘new ways of working’ will become ingrained in our practice in a positive way into the future.

What would you say to someone considering this type of social work?

I am very passionate about social work, both as a career for myself but also for the difference it can make in people’s lives, ensuring they receive the support that they need to be able to live an ‘ordinary life’.

Social work isn’t positively represented in the media, the large care home scandals serve to create anxieties for families and carers. Yes, I have been involved in many safeguarding cases, but I have also seen very good care delivered in person-centred ways, where many workers have a heart for social work and social justice. That’s what keeps me in my role where no two days are the same.

Yes, there are many ‘balls to juggle’ but when those ‘balls’ have some part to play in ensuring someone is safe, that their needs are met or poor practice is challenged, we just keep developing our juggling skills and resilience! 

As a Practice Educator, seeing students develop in confidence and practice skills is rewarding and when students realise the importance of theory to their practice it makes my day!



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